Investigation of zoonotic and animal pathogenic enteric bacteria and their bacteriophages in line with the ‘one health’ approach

Project ID
NKFI FK 143174
Project leader
2022 - 2026

Bacteria of the Enterobacteriaceae family include foodborne, zoonotic as well as animal pathogens posing high public health risk and causing significant economic loss every year. The various pathotypes of Escherichia coli, certain serovars of Salmonella and several other species, because of their great genetic variability and increasing antibiotic resistance, represent significant challenges in human healthcare and veterinary medicine, as well as in food safety. As an answer to antibiotic resistance, research projects aiming the possible use of bacteriophages as alternative antibacterial agents are conducted worldwide.
In our proposed project, we plan to take samples from Hungarian livestock to isolate as many zoonotic and animal pathogenic enterobacterial strains as possible. Emphasis will be on Shiga toxigenic (STEC), enterotoxigenic (ETEC) E. coli as well as those of new pathotypes, also Salmonella serovars of veterinary importance and other species of the family. From the same samples we plan on isolating bacteriophages as well. We intend to characterise both bacterial strains and phages in-depth with complete genomes determined where possible. In the case of bacterial strains, emphasis will be on prophages and other mobile genetic elements often carrying virulence genes, and the assessment of their pathogenic or zoonotic potential. We aim to isolate lytic phages which are good candidates for diagnostic or antibacterial application. We will characterise their genomes, their morphology and host spectrum, and in vitro as well as in situ challenge experiments will be performed using pathogenic and multi-resistant bacterial strains as hosts.

Further collaborators
Dr. László Makrai, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Veterinary Medicine, Budapest
Dr. György Schneider, PhD, Department of Medical Microbiology ad Immunology, University of Pécs, Pécs
Botond Pertics, assistant research fellow, Plant Protection Institute, Centre for Agricultural Research, ELKH, Budapest
Dr. Linda Falgenhauer, Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine and German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Giessen-Marburg-Langen, Justus Liebig University Giessen